Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Trader (Urban Fantasy)

Imagine that you are Max Trader, a world renowned luthier, a maker of string instruments. A "Trader" is something that musicians dream of owning. Then, imagine one day waking up in the body of a stranger, someone loathed. Soon you are homeless. You are friendless and without the trade that you have loved and thrived in all your life. Now what do you do? This is the premise behind Trader, another book in Charles de Lint’s Newford series.

In Trader we also meet Nia, the teenager daughter of a single mother. Max Trader has become her confidant. She is the first person to realize that there is someone else in Max’s body. Then, she sees her mother kissing a woman. Has the world turned into a dangerous place filled with body snatchers? The only thing she can think of doing is to run away from home.

Trader is a novel with a lot of heart. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Max and Nia and many of the others characters in the story. Trader is also thoughtful and thought provoking. Is Max totally a victim or does he bear some responsibility for what happened to him? How does a physical body affect the consciousness that inhabits it? And, as Nia asks: “What were you supposed to do when your world came to an end, when there was nothing you could count on anymore? What was the point of even trying to go on?”

The novel isn’t perfect. I found one of the minor subplots flat and cliché. Also, if the novel had been written post-economic crash, I would have been frustrated with the ending, wanting the same overall feeling but a little different outcome. While the story is for the most part timeless and relevant, in a small way we have emotionally changed since 1997.

I found Trader comforting, like having a nice conversation with a friend. The story is enjoyable and interesting. I like the world de Lint creates in the Newford series. He doesn’t come back to the same protagonists, though Jilly does play an important part in the plotline of Trader. In that it differs from my other favorite series. I remember first discovering the Bryant and May series and not wanting to stop reading the books until I ran out of them. So far, I feel the same way about the Newford series.

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